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With major trade group backing, David Straz union endorsements up to 20

A trade group representing 18 unions goes all-in for Straz.

The number of labor unions backing David Straz for Tampa Mayor has grown to 20 with a major endorsement from the Florida Gulf Coast Building and Construction and Trades Council, which represents 18 unions in the area.

“These labor unions represent the hard-working families and backbone of our community.  Their apprentice programs are a great way to give people a skilled trade and honest living,” Straz said.

In a letter expressing its support, the group praised Straz for his dedication to improving economic conditions for laborers.

“David’s philanthropic and generous work over the years has benefited countless people in our community and his vision for the city of Tampa is one that will foster a strong middle class through policy that supports working families and keeps the residents of Tampa safe,” the group wrote.

Support from labor unions is a key strategic win for the Straz campaign. The candidate is the only in the crowded field to be independently wealthy and is self-funding his campaign with about $1.5 million of his own money. Wealthy candidates often face criticism for being out of touch with working-class voters, but support from labor unions is a show of faith from those who make their livings on trades.

The latest endorsement comes just one week after Straz announced support from the local ironworkers union. In a video posted to Facebook, a crew of workers hold Straz signs and each takes a turn saying why they’re supporting Straz. Their reason includes Straz’s support for a $15 minimum wage, commitment to furthering adult education and apprenticeship programs and the ability to “give us a level playing field on city-funded projects.”

Here are the 18 local unions the trades council represents:

— Boilermakers

— Bricklayers

— Carpenters

— Electricians

— Elevator constructors

— Insulators

— Ironworkers (two groups in the region)

— Laborers

— Millwrights

— Operating engineers

— Operative plasterers and cement masons

— Painters

— Pipefitters

— Roofers

— Sheet metal workers

— Sprinkler fitters

— Teamsters

Straz is running against former Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor, former Hillsborough County Commissioner Ed Turanchik, Tampa City Council members Harry Cohen and Mike Suarez, retired judge Dick Greco Jr., small business consultant Topher Morrison and community activist LaVaughn King. More could still jump in the race. Qualifying ends Thursday. So far only Turanchik has officially qualified for the race.

Election Day is March 5 with a runoff scheduled for April 23.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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